Bear bile tourism in Ha Long Bay has finally been closed down, thanks to the intensive enforcement campaigns led by Quang Ninh authorities, conducted since early 2014. The bear bile tourism industry in Ha Long Bay began around 2007, as six bear farms were established along the major route to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. The bear farms received bus-loads of mainly Korean tourists, who would witness the extraction of bile from a live bear before being encouraged to purchase bear bile and bear products, in violation of the law. As a result, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism banned tourists from visiting bear farms, and after efforts over several years, four of the bear farms were closed. However, two remaining bear farms continued defy the law, selling bear bile to tourists. In early 2014, the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee ordered the two remaining farms to close to tourists and established a taskforce to enforce the closure. The task force included representatives from a number of the provincial agencies including the Forest Protection Department, Environmental Police, The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, as well as from Education for naturw Vietnam (ENV). Over several month-long periods, the task force conducted intensive monitoring at the two remaining bear farms. After a few buses were turned back during the initial weeks of the task force’s operation, long hours and a rigid seven day a week schedule paid off and both farms ceased operations completely. Since May of this year, no tourists have been observed at either of the two remaining bear farms and the Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department plans to continue to monitor these farms to ensure that bear bile tourism will not restart again in the future.
“The success of this campaign can be attributed to the commitment of the Quang Ninh authorities to address this cruel and illegal form of business once and for all, at the heart of Vietnam’s most prestigious tourist destination, Ha Long Bay,” said Ms. Nguyen Phuong Dung, ENV vice-director.
“This marks the beginning of the end for the bear bile tourism industry in Vietnam,” says Dung.
The original report can be found on the ENV website, http://www.envietnam.org/index.php/topic/env-activities/638-bear-bile-tourism-finally-shut-down-in-ha-long
Alertis aims to phase out bear farming, in order to protect the bear population in the wild from extinction. Research has started to determine if bear farming for gall actually really threatens the bear population. Research is also done into alternatives for bear gall and the development of a better system in order to monitor populations in the wild. More information can be found on www.bearsinmind.org